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Investing in Real Estate: Global Diversification using a Quantitative Rules-Based Index

Mid- and Small-Cap Fund Managers Lost Their Advantage – SPIVA U.S. Mid-Year 2021 Scorecard

The Importance of Order

Global Diversification Trending in India – Time to Notice?

S&P MAESTRO 5 Index: A Sophisticated Composition Designed to Simplify Risk Management

Investing in Real Estate: Global Diversification using a Quantitative Rules-Based Index

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Meb Faber

Chief Investment Officer

Cambria Investment Management

A question…

Take five major asset classes: U.S. stocks, international stocks, long-term government bonds, Treasury Bills, and REITs. If their respective compound rate of return over the past two decades is compared, which would come in highest?


Maybe bonds as they’ve ridden yields down to near zero?


REITs win the day.

If returns for these asset classes over the past twenty years are compared, REITs returned the most, leading the way with a compound annual return of 10.4%.

There may be benefits of adding REITs to a traditional investment portfolio beyond historical returns.

Whether it’s farmland, apartment rentals, home builders, or commercial properties, real estate can be a diversifier when combined with a portfolio of equities and fixed income.

Now, when one thinks “REITs,” chances are “income” comes to mind. And many investors stop their analysis right there – which REIT yields the most? We believe this is a limited perspective.

Today, let’s highlight why by walking through what we believe is a more optimal way to structure a REIT portfolio.

Diversification Across the Globe

Across all asset classes, one of the biggest diversification mistakes that investors make – across all asset classes – is concentrating their investments in their own, home country.

For example, if the global stock market is weighted by size, the U.S. only accounts for a little over half of the total market-cap. But most U.S. investors allocate about 80% or more to US stocks.

Of course, this home country bias is not specific to U.S. investors. It exists all over the world and is even more pronounced in smaller countries since they command a much smaller percentage of global market-cap weights.

Only considering U.S. exposure when it comes to REITs could be a mistake.

However, considering global exposure is just the first step in creating balanced, optimized REIT portfolio. There are additional, beneficial steps one could theoretically take.

Incorporating Value, Quality, and Momentum Factors

Most people consider using factor investing when it comes to stocks, but what about REITs?

S&P has built a factor-based index focused on the global REIT sector. This S&P Global REIT Quality, Value & Momentum (QVM) Multi-Factor Index first starts with the S&P Global REIT Index universe. The index then screens for companies with specific attributes related to value, quality, and momentum. Real estate is a unique sector, and the index utilizes factors that are specific to REITs like funds from operations (FFO) and financial leverage levels.

Why would investors want to consider factors such as these when it comes to REITs?

The simple answer is: to break the market-cap weight.

We’ll examine this topic and how a multi-factor REIT approach may fit into a portfolio in Part II



The views and opinions of any third-party author are his/her own and may not necessarily represent the views or opinions of S&P Dow Jones Indices or any of its affiliates.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Mid- and Small-Cap Fund Managers Lost Their Advantage – SPIVA U.S. Mid-Year 2021 Scorecard

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Berlinda Liu

Former Director, Multi-Asset Indices

S&P Dow Jones Indices

The SPIVA® U.S. Mid-Year Scorecard continues to show that active funds’ strong absolute returns do not always translate into relative success compared with their benchmarks. In 15 out of 18 categories of domestic equity funds, the majority of actively managed funds underperformed their benchmarks. Over the 12-month period ending June 30, 2021, 58% of large-cap funds, 76% of mid-cap funds, and 78% of small-cap funds trailed the S&P 500®, S&P MidCap 400®, and S&P SmallCap 600®, respectively.

Vast underperformance in the mid- and small-cap segments is particularly interesting in that these active funds managed to do better than their large-cap counterparts in recent reports. Given that their outperformance seemed to occur when the large-cap benchmark had a higher return than the respective mid- or small-cap benchmark (see Exhibits 1 and 2), it is more likely that mid-cap and small-cap fund managers are quietly edging into the larger-cap space and benefiting from the higher returns available there. The re-opening gains of early 2021 add one more data point to that hypothesis. As the rest of the market caught up to the large-cap rally of the initial pandemic phase, mid-cap and small-cap managers who tilted up the capitalization scale were caught leaning in the wrong direction.

This is the first time we included risk-adjusted SPIVA scores in the report. We consider volatility, calculated through the standard deviation of monthly returns, as a proxy for risk, and use return/volatility ratios to evaluate performance. After adjusting for risk, the majority of actively managed domestic equity funds in all categories underperformed their benchmarks on a net-of-fees basis over long-term investment horizons.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

The Importance of Order

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Craig Lazzara

Managing Director, Index Investment Strategy

S&P Dow Jones Indices

We all know that stock market returns vary substantially over time. For example, the S&P 500®’s performance between 1981 and 2020 ranged from -37% (2008) to +38% (1995). The market’s compound annual return for this period was 11.5%.

Investors, however, live with actual portfolio values, not abstract rates of return. Obviously, and other things equal, portfolio values will rise with larger contributions and with higher returns. But there is an additional, easily overlooked, source of uncertainty. The market generated a particular set of returns, as shown in Exhibit 1, but those returns occurred in a particular order. If the order had been different, the impact on portfolio values would have been profound. Whether we’re interested in extrapolating into the future or simply in understanding alternative historical outcomes, we need to understand both the average level of returns and the order in which they occurred.

We can illustrate this by considering three alternative scenarios, all using the return data from Exhibit 1. We assume that an investor contributes $1,000 at the beginning of 1981, increasing his investment by 5% every year for 40 years, for a total cumulative contribution of $120,800. For each of our three scenarios, we use the actual returns of a hypothetical investment in the S&P 500, but arrange the order differently. The “Actual Order” scenario shows what would have happened if the returns occurred in exactly the order they did. The “Increasing Return Order” scenario assumes that the worst return came first, then the next-to-worst, and so on until the best return occurred in year 40. The “Decreasing Return Order” scenario makes the opposite assumption; the best return would have occurred first, and the worst in year 40.

For all three scenarios in Exhibit 2, the market’s compound growth rate is the same.  For all three scenarios, the amount and timing of the investor’s hypothetical contributions are the same. And yet the highest hypothetical portfolio value is nearly 18 times greater than the lowest. Clearly, the order in which returns could have occurred matters a great deal. Actual historical performance lies between the two extremes (and is much closer to the lower than to the upper bound).

Exhibit 2 illustrates an important truth: a portfolio outcome depends in part, but only in part, on the returns the market delivers. Portfolio values also depend importantly on the order of returns. Modeling portfolios requires us to deal with both sources of uncertainty.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

Global Diversification Trending in India – Time to Notice?

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Koel Ghosh

Former Head of South Asia

S&P Dow Jones Indices

The merit of international diversification seems to have proven itself lately in the context of the Indian market. Over the past year, interest has increased in adding global exposures to local investment portfolios. Global markets offer the potential opportunity to diversify beyond a traditional concentrated focus on local markets.

The latest August Global Equity Dashboard reflected the upward trend of global equities, with the S&P Global BMI posting a YTD return of 16% and a one-year return of 30%. The S&P Global BMI is an index that is designed to measure more than 11,000 stocks from 25 developed and 25 emerging markets. The S&P United States BMI and the S&P Emerging Europe BMI have had YTD returns of over 20%, which has resulted in increased interest for allocation in those regions. Furthermore, 44 of the 50 country subindices of the S&P Global BMI gained in the last month. The U.S. had the most significant weight, around 57.5%,1 in the S&P Global BMI in terms of country exposure.

Looking at sector performance, Information Technology led in the 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods, while the 1-year period favored Financials (44.87%), Materials (37.86%), and Energy (36.27%). However, the trend shifted YTD, with Energy (23.56%) outperforming and Financials (22.72%) and Information Technology (19.65%) close behind.

The U.S. markets have been gaining popularity in India among other global options. The S&P 500®, the best single gauge of large-cap U.S. equities, has gained popularity among Indian investors. The index posted its seventh straight month of gains in August, climbing 3.0% for the month supported by positive earnings and continued support from the Fed. The options available for global diversification are growing beyond plain vanilla domestic strategies. Thematic, strategy, and sustainable factors are also becoming available to add additional flavor.

India is known for its home bias, but that trend was bucked last year and has continued YTD. Fund of funds investing overseas have grown more than eight-fold since year-end 2019 from INR 2635 crores to INR 21441 crores in August 2021,2 with a 137% growth YTD. While the number of schemes has not increased significantly, the Indian passive market is looking to offer more options for global diversification. The last year has witnessed a host of new passive product filings, with the Securities and Exchange Board of India clearly demonstrating the growing appetite for international investing among local investors.

1 As of Aug. 31, 2021

2 Source : AMFI

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.

S&P MAESTRO 5 Index: A Sophisticated Composition Designed to Simplify Risk Management

Get to know the S&P MAESTRO 5 Index, a diversified, multi-asset, multi-factor risk parity strategy designed to help investors hit the right notes across a range of market conditions.

The posts on this blog are opinions, not advice. Please read our Disclaimers.